Sunday, July 7, 2013

The power of persuasion (TOW#1, Case Studies and Issues in PR)

In its purest form PR often promotes one group's endeavors to persuade another group to its point of view. There is competition for the available time and space. Some individuals seem to get more than their fair share. Other are barely visible. Some do not appear at all. The competition is a fact of life in the news business. That's why it is important to develop a "hook", a reason that your organization should be singled out for coverage.

Here's 3 questions concerning public persuasion that I'm going to answer providing my own examples.

What made you change your opinion of a public figure, organization or brand?

Upon my arrival in Canada from Republic of Belarus in 2010 I was not familiar enough with Walmart, the largest retailer in the world. It was obvious: Winnipeg is packed with company's stores. I must say that my impression about their business was not vivid, because some former employees I know had negative experience with Walmart. The list of reasons explained seemed to be endless: horrible wages and high demands,  poor health insurance and environmental approaches, discrimination against pregnant, labor abuses, high staff turnover, union-busting, shareholders' greediness, local retailer oppression, outsourcing from Asia with terrible labor violations. Company spends more spying on their own employees than on security of their consumers, who are being robbed, raped and murdered on the parking lot (2005 Walmart parking lot crimes). Word of mouth played its role in shaping my own opinion on Walmart policies. Now I wonder how does the company address such a bad publicity. Food for thought for a separate blog post...

What factors have influenced your decision to do or not to do something?

Being a member of GoodLife Fitness Club for the past year I've been constantly following company's presence in the media. Thanks to their efforts to give every Canadian the opportunity to live a fit and healthy good life, I got engaged with this whole idea instantly and can't imagine my life without regular exercising anymore. Since its foundation in 1979 GoodLife have created a big community with their own values (7 corevalues), which are shared with a positive attitude through multiple ways, whether it's a blog, forum, facebook page, twitter, training program, marathons, charity cause, etc. They are definitely good in gathering people. I find their campaigns are very appealing and messages clear, for example: "When you experience the life-enhancing benefits of exercise, others around you do as well." Every new campaign includes short TV spots, radio spots, direct mail, online and in-club merchandising material. While writing this post I came across GettingStarted Page, which starts with Founder and CEO's, David Patchell-Evans's, appeal to fitness beginners. The page contains information that can be personalized by all kinds of new members, it has many 20 minute video tutorials, FAQ about workout, club services and reward programs. GoodLife Fitness do not just draw our attention to make us join the club, they show how to achieve our personal goals by being a guide into the world of fitness. 

What had made you think differently about an issue?

An American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, actor, and writer/author George Carlin made me think differently about issues in politics, psychology, religion, and other aspects of socio-cultural life. By employing black humor Carlin was making light of otherwise solemn subject matter; he knew how to bring up very unpleasant, serious, or painful topics and make people think about them. Death, war, disease, crime, corruption, bureaucracy, beliefs, mass cultures, taboos, everything that arises from stressful, traumatic, or life-threatening situations were served by Carlin on a plate just like a dish flavored with light, silly, or satirical fashion. His "Seven Dirty Words" comedy routine was complained about to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) back in 1970's. However, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FCC action, ruling that the routine was "indecent but not obscene" and giving FCC freedom to determine what constituted indecency in different contexts. "I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately," - noted Carlin.

                                                          Portrait by Odwin Rensen


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